Review of Bas van Fraassen. Scientific representation: paradoxes of perspective

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Abstract

Central to Kuhn’s notion of incommensurability are the ideas of meaning variance and lexicon, and the impossibility of translation of terms across different theories. Such a notion of incommensurability is based on a particular understanding of what a scientific language is. In this paper we first attempt to understand this notion of scientific language in the context of incommensurability. We consider the consequences of the essential multisemiotic character of scientific theories and show how this leads to even a single theory being potentially ‘internally incommensurable’. We then discuss Kuhn’s lexicon‐based approach to incommensurability and the problems associated with it. Finally we argue that this approach by Kuhn has interesting overlaps with the problem of meaning associated with multisemiosis, particularly the challenge of understanding the process of symbolization in scientific theories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-337
JournalInternational Studies in the Philosophy of Science
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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